So it Begins! CSA Newsletter #1

There is an unreasonable but implacable anxiety, a fear even, as the first CSA boxes and first farmers’ markets draw nearer.

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Spring is giving way to Summer, and the nature of our lives and work changes with it – suddenly, it will matter what day of the week it is, what day tomorrow is, and we’re back into the grid of weeks and cyclical responsibilities, after months of only paying attention to what the weather will be and what needs to be taken care of.

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The transition this year was marked with oh-so-apt weather – yesterday, two air masses danced to and fro overhead, bringing alternating sunny heat and drenching rain and hail, over and over throughout the entire day.

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Deluge, then bright sun that brought curtains of steam up from the field … then minutes later, the cycle ran again. It was actually lovely to work in, stimulating and beautiful – and the plants couldn’t have been happier with it.

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(The timing was perfect; we’d just finished trellising up our hundreds of sensitive, vulnerable tomato plants – so the stormy winds, soaking rain, and scattered hailstones couldn’t drive them down into the dirt. They stood proud and happy after the storms passed among the steaming puddles.)

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The past week has been gentle on us – lots of work, but good help – B & Nora are still with us, several good friends from the Cities came out repeatedly to help, and Shareholder Tara brought her organized mind and willingness to work to bear on projects ranging from weeding to tons of tomato trellising – as well as with today’s harvest!

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Speaking of bears, there’s been plenty of them afoot in the ‘hood. I chased off two or three big ones with skyward shotgun blasts, and those two haven’t returned. Young Master Bear, the fridge raider, hasn’t been spotted on our land, but he’s repeatedly raided Neighbor Marcia’s bird feeders, coming at odd daylight hours to get them before she can put them away for the night. There are frogs and birds everywhere, but hardly a mosquito to be found – I think I can dare to hope now that it’s really going to be a mild year for biting bugs (although now that I typed it, we’ll see what happens).

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The freeze-damaged plants survived, but they’re small – and most of the broccoli and cauliflower has already started forming teeny tiny heads, as a result of the stress of being frozen, they go into full on survival mode, and work to ensure they can produce some seed no matter what – and they don’t dare spend time getting big before they do it. Alas! But the collards, kale, and cabbage are making good comebacks, and we’ll be planting late-season crops of the broccoli and cauliflowers shortly, so barring another surprise from nature, we should all have some to enjoy this season regardless!

The field is all filled up now – it’s amazing how quickly it went from a vast blank canvas to an increasingly lush composition, glowing in hundreds of subtle shades of green. Now it’s time to start emptying it back out again, and delivering it to ya’ll, one box at a time.
the view I had for days, manually laying out the plastic mulch for the tomatoes
the view I had for days, manually laying out the plastic mulch for the tomatoes

CSA BOX #1

Some general storage info – twist/fold plastic bags to keep things from desiccating. Use the crisper drawer in your fridge – it maintains humidity better than the rest of the fridge. Actually, let’s save me some typing- here’s a link to some good info on storage.

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  • Spring Salad Mix – Red Ruby lettuce, Waltman’s green lettuce, pea tips, arugula, baby kale, green & red mizuna (red is a bit spicy).  If you’re like me, dig in as it comes – if you prefer smaller and neater bites, chop it up just before eating.IMG_4568
  • Orange Marmalade – When we were down south this winter WWOOFing on other farms, we spotted an ad on Craiglist for free oranges – a guy had a tree in his yard that produced super abundantly, but he was unable to harvest them – so we went over armed with several empty boxes, climbed up, and got to work transforming his burden into dozens of jars of preserves to bring North to share. (Please return the jar when it’s all gone!)

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  • Radishes  Tasty zingballs in your salad, whole or sliced. If you’re not a fan of that radish zing, you can roast them to create a mild side dish, with a flavor similar to roasted rutabaga or turnips – perhaps you’ll find that roasted radishes are the vegetable that’s missing from your life!

  • Radish Greens – Don’t try to eat them raw: that’s gross (unless you blend them into pesto). Don’t be intimidated by the size of the bag – you’re going to cook these down, like veggie shrinky-dinks. Being a good CSA member means learning to cook greens and love it: fact. We didn’t eat many cooked greens before we started the farm, but they’re now a large part of our diet and it’s awesome. They hold sauces and flavors really well, taste great, and are as nutritious than the roots they’re plucked from. Ways we’ve enjoyed them: chopped up with beans, in soup, sauteed in butter or bacon fat, with soy sauce, garlic … or green onions! We usually sautee them only lightly to maintain more of the green nature, especially since they’re not that tough. (We washed and spun them for you, but you might want to rinse them one more time because these leaves tend to hold onto grit better than most.) Here are some idears to consider.

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  • Green Onions – The green tops are milder, good to use fresh or add at the very end of cooking. Good in salad dressing, on eggs, or as garnish on a baked potato. The white part has a stronger onion flavor, and can be used anywhere you’d use regular onion.
  • Oregano – We threw a couple of sprigs in – use it to flavor a salad dressing or on eggs …
  • Free range eggs (large shares only) – Our flock spends most of every day foraging in the woods, begging for scraps, jostling with Widget for dominance in the animal pecking order, and learning to jump up and eat from our hands. They’ve got it pretty good, and we love their antics – we don’t have a TV, but we have plenty of entertainment watching the Chicken Show go down all around us.

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Oh, and that pre-season dread I mentioned at the beginning? It’s gone, replaced by a mix of excitement, pride, satisfaction, and even awe – it’s ON, we’re doing it, and it’s beautiful.

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Hell. Yeah.

It’s gonna be a great year.

Widget knew I was harvesting from the pea plants, and begged for me to find and provide the baby peasWidget knew I was harvesting from the pea plants, and begged for me to find and provide the baby peas
Widget knew I was harvesting from the pea plants, and begged for me to find and provide the baby peas. She loves them.

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